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Defiant Biden says won’t leave race, doesn’t need cognitive test

President Joe Biden points as he arrives on Air Force One at Dane County Regional Airport to attend a campaign rally in Madison, Wis., July 5. AP-Yonhap

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said he did not need a cognitive test to determine whether he had a mental decline and dismissed calls from some Democrats that he should step aside to let a more vigorous candidate take on Republican Donald Trump.

A defiant Biden, scrambling to defuse the political crisis over his shaky debate performance, used a 22-minute ABC News interview to argue again that he had a bad night at the debate and that he was the right candidate to beat Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential race.

Under persistent questioning from ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Biden dismissed polls that showed him trailing Trump and said other polls have him in a better position.

Asked if he had undergone a specific cognitive test for a neurological exam, Biden, 81, said he had not had one and “no one said I had to.”

In his last physical exam on Feb. 28 he was determined to be fit for duty but the president routinely makes verbal slipups. Some specialists on aging say he should have a cognitive test.

Asked if he would undergo a cognitive a test, he was dismissive, citing the rigors of the White House as sufficient.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test — everything I do (is a test),” Biden said.

In his first interview since the debate, Biden said he was the best candidate to take on Trump and that only “Lord almighty” could oust him from the race.

Biden cited “a really bad cold” for his stumbling performance at the debate and exhaustion after two trips to Europe.

“I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of my preparing. It was a bad night,” he told George Stephanopoulos in the ABC interview.

The ABC interview was a departure from Biden’s heavy use of a teleprompter for his public remarks and as a result it was being closely watched.

Biden said he was distracted to some degree by Trump talking when his microphone was shut off during the debate.

“I let it distract me. I realized that I just wasn’t in control,” he said.

He said he could not run a foot race, “but I’m still in good shape.”

Before the interview, Biden offered a defiant defense of his determination to stay in the race.

“We had a little debate last week. Can’t say it was my best performance. But ever since then there’s been a lot of speculation. ‘What’s Joe gonna do? Is he gonna stay in the race? Is he gonna drop out?” Biden said. “Well here’s my answer: I am running and gonna win again.”

The president faced a potential new hurdle from within the party ranks, however. Senator Mark Warner, a well-respected moderate 합법 Democrat, is inviting Democratic senators to a meeting on Monday to discuss Biden’s campaign, a source told Reuters. The Washington Post reported Warner was seeking to ask the group to press Biden to exit the race.

The president told reporters later that he had spoken to at least 20 lawmakers and that they were telling him to stay. Asked about Warner calling for him to go, Biden said: “Well, Mark Warner, to my understanding, is the only one considering that.”

At the rally, Biden said he was thankful for the support of his vice president, Kamala Harris, who has emerged as a top choice to replace him were he to step aside as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer. One person at the Madison rally held up a sign behind Biden that said, “Pass the torch, Joe.”

Harris posted a supportive note on X, formerly Twitter, after Biden’s rally, saying the president had devoted his life to fighting for Americans. “In this moment, I know all of us are ready to fight for him,” she said.

But Illinois Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, on MSNBC, called on Biden to step aside and “let someone else do this” or risk “utter catastrophe.”

Biden knocked Trump’s intelligence and called him a liar, delivering stinging attacks that were absent when he appeared on the Atlanta debate stage. He referenced a comment in which Trump mistakenly said George Washington’s revolutionary army had taken over British airports in 1776. “He is a ‘stable genius,'” Biden said.

But he had sharper words for those in his party who have raised doubts about his ability to lead them to victory over Trump in the Nov. 5th election.

“I’m the nominee of this party,” Biden said.

“They’re trying to push me out of the race. Well let me say this as clearly as I can: I’m staying in the race! I’ll beat Donald Trump. I will beat him again in 2020,” Biden said, getting the year wrong. He followed up by saying: “And by the way we’re going to do it again in 2024.”

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